The President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, has turned down a meeting to receive a petition, backed by more than 120,000 signatories, calling for greater European action to tackle the patterns of EU consumption that drive global deforestation.
That petition that Juncker does not wish to discuss is endorsed by more than 20 organisations worldwide, including Fern, and was launched in May 2018, following the Commission’s publication of a feasibility study offering policy options to act on deforestation. The petition urges M. Juncker to uphold the EU’s international commitment to halt deforestation by 2020 by supporting an EU Action Plan to protect forests and respect forest-dependent peoples’ rights.
At least 10 million hectares of tropical forest continue to be lost and degraded every year; commercial agriculture is responsible for well over half of this loss.
As explained in the petition, the EU is a top importer of agricultural commodities, and “has the power to act and the duty to stop this”. The letter calls for EU legislation to guarantee that no products or financial transactions linked to the EU result in deforestation, forest degradation or human rights abuses.
In early June, another action was launched by online community SumOfUs also calling on the Commission to act. Together, the petitions have accumulated close to 170,000 signatures. Both are still open for signing.
Human rights defenders and indigenous leaders from Liberia, Indonesia and Colombia will travel to Brussels at the end of June to request a new meeting with other European Commissioners in order to deliver the petition and exchange views on how European imports of agricultural commodities can be regulated.